67 Killed in Syria as Rebels Use Tanks to Shell Aleppo Airbase

Syrian rebels used tanks to attack a military airport northwest of Aleppo on Thursday, a rebel commander said, as a human rights group reported 67 people killed in violence nationwide.

"We had already attacked the airport several times, but this was the first time we used heavy weapons," which were "four tanks taken from Anadan," rebel commander Abdel Aziz Salameh told Agence France Presse, referring to a strategic military checkpoint outside Aleppo that the rebels captured on Monday.

"The destruction was greater than the time before," he added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier reported the rebel attack on Menagh military airport, 30 kilometers (18 miles) northwest of the commercial capital.

An Agence France Presse reporter who heard and saw the bombardment said rebels told him it was "an attack to take this airport being used by helicopters and planes that are firing on Aleppo."

The rebel Free Syrian Army has said it now controls "50 percent" of Aleppo, where the army is bombarding rebel-held areas, notably Salaheddin in the southwest, but has yet to advance on the ground.

Questioned about the lack of retaliation by the army, which is massed around Aleppo, a security source said that "the regime is testing the terrorists' defenses in order to uncover their hiding places before annihilating them in a major surgical operation."

Mobile phone and Internet services, cut since Wednesday night, were being gradually restored in Aleppo by Thursday afternoon.

In the capital Damascus, heavy fighting erupted in the southern Tadamun district, the Syrian Observatory said.

"Syrian troops withdrew from the neighborhood following heavy clashes with rebel battalions, which resulted in the killing of four rebels and at least three soldiers," the Britain-based watchdog added.

And for the first time, regime forces raided the exclusive Muhajireen neighborhood of north Damascus, arresting about 20 young men.

At least 67 people -- 36 civilians, 16 soldiers and 15 rebels -- were killed across the country Thursday, according to the Observatory.

Source: Agence France Presse

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